Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


American Jews 2014

     Ten percent of the 5.3 million American Jews are “Orthodox” (straight belief).  Eighteen percent are Conservative, thirty-five percent are Reform, and 37 percent are non-denominational. Among synagogue members, twenty-nine percent are Conservatives, twenty-two percent are Orthodox, and thirty-nine percent are Reform. The other ten percent are Reconstructionist or belong to a very small sect.

     Seventy percent of all American Jews participate in seders, fifty-three percent fast on Yom Kippur, twenty-three percent light Sabbath candles, and twenty-two percent keep a kosher home.

     The median (not the mean)  age of American Jews is fifty. The median age of the Orthodox is forty. Reform Jews exhibit a median age of fifty-four. All U.S. Jews have a birthrate of 1.9, with non-denominational Jews at the lower end. Their birthrate is only 1.4 while the Orthodox have a birthrate of 4.3. Conservatives and Reform have low birthrates of 1.8 and 1.7 respectively. Furthermore, 28% of those raised in Reform leave Judaism entirely.

     Among those who are Orthodox, 98% of those married have a Jewish spouse. Among Conservatives, 73% are married Jewish. Fifty percent of Reform Jews have a Jewish spouse, and 31% of secular Jews have married a Jew. Fifty-six percent of all Jews are married to a Jew. More recently, 71% of Jews have married non-Jews.

     Fifty-seven percent of orthodox Jews vote Republican. Seventy percent of all Jews vote Democrat, and 77% of Reform Jews vote Democrat. This is true of 64% of Conservative Jews.

      Twenty-two percent of former Jews have no religion. These folk have a birthrate smaller than any other Jews, as 79% are married to non-Jews. Two thirds of these are not raising their children in any manner as Jews. Thirty-two percent of these agnostics were born after 1980 and this is true of 58% of those born in 2000 or later.

     While 67% of Jews with a religion donate to the poor, only 20% of agnostics make such donations.

     Only 69% of Jews by any definition feel any attachment to Israel.

     All this has led to a growing polarization between Jews by religion and those who have Jewish ancestry but are not otherwise Jewish.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The German Jews in America (2014).

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